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Cup chaos as weather takes its toll

 

By Graham Hamilton

There's a growing clamour for the governing body to introduce a winter break here during which we could align ourselves with all other major European hockey nations and play the popular indoor version for two months.

But yesterday's postponements of all three Irish Senior Cup quarter-finals due to be played - one in Ulster, one in Leinster and one in Munster - highlights just how difficult it is to choose just which two months would help us beat the bad weather.

Unlike some of the other European countries, who know that temperatures regularly dip below freezing from mid-December through to the end of February, it's much more difficult to predict when the bad spell of weather hits Ireland, north and south.

The loss of yesterday's three Irish Senior Cup quarter-finals, after all, came in what is the second half of March, and not so long after there was a wipe-out due to snow earlier in the month.

And the first of the cup postponements came as far back as November, with just three of the original eight second round ties beating the weather.

Two more were rearranged for January 6 and the remaining three were played on January 13 - the date that all four quarter-finals were to be staged.

Pembroke Wanderers beat Mossley in the only quarter that went ahead on its original date, with the remaining three put back to yesterday - which was the date marked down on the calendar for the semi-finals.

The Cork C of I and Three Rock Rovers clash was called off due to a frozen pitch at Garryduff, and the Glenanne and Monkstown Dublin derby showdown was hit by heavy snow in the Fair City.

Garvey's Hillsborough pitch, ironically, was ruled playable. But that tie too was called off as opponents YMCA were unable to travel north due to the snow in Dublin which also caused the postponement of Ireland's Grand Slam heroes' welcome at the Aviva Stadium.

Provisionally Garvey hope to reschedule their quarter-final later today, but overall it's going to be a tight squeeze to fit in three quarter-finals and two semi-finals before the scheduled April 8 cup final date which is just three weeks away.

So, which two months do you choose between November and March for a winter break?

Probably the same as other European countries, from mid-December through to the end of February, and set up a meaningful indoor hockey programme to keep players ticking over. But brace yourself in case we have a similar winter as this year, which could then see the winter break stretch from November through to March.

And that would leave one massive headache to fit in the outdoor programme within normal schedules.

Finally, three cup finals did beat the weather on Saturday at Stormont Playball.

Oliver Kidd made it two cup medals inside a 40-hour period when he scored twice to help Lisnagarvey II beat Annadale II 4-2 to land the Junior 1 League Cup.

Kidd, of course, was named man of the match on Thursday evening after playing a key role in Friends' School's Burney Cup triumph over holders Sullivan Upper.

Gary Dean bagged a hat-trick as Banbridge II won the Junior 2 League Cup final by beating Civil Service II 4-1 and Scott Moore and Sam Pyper each hit a brace as North Down III beat Newry Olympic II 4-0 in the Junior 3 League Cup final.

Irish Senior Cup quarter-finals: Lisnagarvey v Dublin YMCA (postponed); Glenanne v Monkstown (postponed), Cork C of I v Three Rock Rovers (postponed).

Junior 1 League Cup final: Lisnagarvey II 4 (O Kidd 2, P Stirling, H Morris) Annadale II 2 (J Taylor 2).

Junior 2 League Cup final: Banbridge III 4 (G Dean 3, S Magowan) Civil Service II 1 (A Gill).

Junior 3 League Cup final: North Down II 4 (S Moore 2, S Pyper 2) Newry Olympic II 0.

Belfast Telegraph

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